[Smt-talk] Modes Of Imagining

CARSON FARLEY ccfarley at embarqmail.com
Tue Jul 22 13:00:21 PDT 2014

Is the game of music the same game as in Hermann Hesse's book The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi) ? Does music become a game for the intellect and intellectual exercise for the composer and academic elite? Perhaps in lessor composers the reliance on constructing things suggests a lack of imagination. If the composer is lucky enough however to experience real inspiration then the music must pour out as it was meant to be. I think many of the great composers were inspired and heard the music in their musical head and imagination and did not have to play the game - just get the ideas and music out as fast as possible. Frank Zappa is a wonderful example of this kind of genius. His output is staggering and the complexity of his music feels as if he just wrote down directly what he imagined . Mozart of course is the greatest example. After all the technical brilliance and genius of every aspect of music at his command the listener is left with such a deeply moving emotional response as if Mozart shared his inner soul with us. 

The problem with avoiding something to create something new is a pitfall in a way. The process of imagining is not the same as avoiding (which starts from a vision, not the avoidance of a vision). Someone had mentioned that serial and twelve tone techniques (or that general direction of musical composition) produces artificial collections of tones that result primarily in a numbers game: matrices, combinatorial relations, permutation, Z-relations, mapping, re-ordering, control of all aspects of the composition in a highly rational archtectonic structure/model - and that has little to do with the natural components of sound. I agree, but would add that Post Tonal atonal compositional techniques led us to where we are now and the math was/is necessary for the evolution of Western music philosophy. Sound has physical properties and one merely has to come to the conclusion that the physics of sound are important or not as structural consideration - there is no right way in art! I'm more convinced that what moves art and music forward is more related to the time and technology of our age rather than intellectual justification. Photography is a good example of how the visual arts have developed relative to the technology of the age we live in. And one can easily add other artistic disciplines to the list which undergo change when melded to the possibilities our age offers. 

Possibly I'm admitting that I'm a Platonist, but I do think certain elements of music and composition are eternal and cannot be avoided . A prime example of this is the limitation of linear movement possible for music lines (of any type). What is there besides parallel, contrary, and oblique motion? Is it really possible to avoid the concept (in any music) of modulation - that is relieving stasis by changing to a new region/variation/collection? Is the melodic content (in any music) something that should be avoided? Human beings relate to music in every culture through it's melodic content in some manner and this has never changed, so why must it be avoided in the first place (I'm not referring to tonality rather quality)? Can harmony be avoided (in any music now or in the past)? If good music is to be created the reason has to be better than avoiding something that is tired, it has to come from human emotion, imagination, inspiration, and ingenuity - that is not a game. No matter what choices a composer makes there are certain eternal aspects of music that cannot be avoided. 

Carson Farley 
University of Washington Alumnus
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.societymusictheory.org/pipermail/smt-talk-societymusictheory.org/attachments/20140722/52de4ca0/attachment.htm>

More information about the Smt-talk mailing list